2014 Varner "Bee Block-Spring Ridge Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

SKU #1253999 95 points Vinous

 The 2014 Chardonnay Bee Block is the standout in this lineup of Chardonnays from Bob and Jim Varner. Wonderfully complete and layered, the 2014 is all about balance, harmony and proportion. Everything is in the right place. The combination of phenolic intensity and creaminess is deftly balanced in a Chardonnay endowed with both tension and enough mid-palate intensity to give the wine its sense of openness. (AG)  (7/2016)

Jancis Robinson

 A little cooler than the Home Block. Solid stuff with good extract. Sweet start and proper beginning, middle and end to this wine. Very different from the Santa Barbara style. More ageable? Some spiciness.  (2/2016)

K&L Notes

At K&L, we are always HUGE fans of the Varner brothers' wines. These are carefully crafted, terroir-driven Chardonnays that drink well on release and also age very well. This bottling hails from the Bee Block at the Varners' Spring Ridge Vineyard, which features 24-year-old vines planted to a northeast-facing slope. The vines are dry-farmed and worked by hand with no insecticides. The wine is fermented on indigenous yeast and aged in 25% new, French (Bertranges & Troncais) oak.

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Price: $47.99

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By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/24/2016 | Send Email
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people: I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar for most wine fans, due to their small production, out-of-the-way location--high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains--and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage, we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The 2014 “Bee Block,” long the favorite block of most of our local customers, is once again the richest and fleshiest of the Chardonnay trio. Golden fruits, Gala apples, sous bois and a touch of quinine combine on the serious and centered nose. Weight and ripeness abounds here from the moment it hits your palate. This is textbook Bee Block right down to its hallmark honey background tones. Milled corn, grilled peaches and almond skin, all with the slightest bit of creaminess, roll easily over the palate and barrel towards the direct and powerful finish. If you like your Chards on the bigger side, this is as big as the Varner Chards get.

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.
Alcohol Content (%): 14.2